Columbia's latest box office victory was a small one. Family sequel Stuart Little 2 opened at the top of the charts over the weekend with a so-so $15.6m take, according to studio estimates released yesterday. That beat DreamWorks' adult drama Road To Perdition by a mere $0.3m.

It was an uncharacteristically slow three days in theatres across the country, with the $104.4m combined revenue from the top 12 pictures representing a 23% fall from the same period last year. The sequel to 1999's $140m smash Stuart Little did not quite explode out of the blocks in the way that studio chiefs had expected. Columbia was aiming for an opening weekend in the region of $25m and the eventual estimated yield and a $4,793 average from 3,255 theatres put the dampeners on a lacklustre three days for the film.

Once again the family tale combines live action with animation and centres on the adventures of a cutesy rodent, voiced by Michael J Fox. Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie and Nathan Lane also star and the picture was directed by Rob Minkoff, who shot the original.

Road To Perdition held on to second place after last weekend's impressive opening, the Tom Hanks gangster tale grossing $15.57m to give it a $47.5m cumulative after ten days. The Sam Mendes-directed picture rolled out to another 362 sites and averaged $7,212 from 2,159 theatres. Men In Black II continued to amass the cash for Columbia, slipping from first place to third with $15m that brings its cumulative total after 19 days to $158.6m.

Paramount's K-19: The Widowmaker was another victim of the slow weekend, opening fourth on a disappointing $13.8m, around $5m less than Paramount executives had been predicting. The true story adaptation stars Harrison Ford as the commander of an imperilled Russian nuclear submarine and co-stars Liam Neeson. K-19: The Widowmaker marks a return to the screen for director Kathryn Bigelow whose lower budget drama The Weight Of Water will open in the US later this year, even though she made it before K19. The picture had mixed reviews and averaged $4,632 from 2,828 venues. Columbia's Adam Sandler comedy Mr. Deeds rounded out the top five with a $7.3m haul and broke the $100m barrier: it now has a $107.6m cumulative after four weeks on release.

The only other opener to break into the top ten was Eight Legged Freaks, which finished seventh for Warner Bros on $6.7m. The picture was released on Wednesday and now stands on $9.3m. Starring David Arquette, it received fairly dire reviews, with most critics unable to decide whether it was a passable B-movie or a spoof that misses the spot. Next weekend should see business bounce back with the opening of New Line's eagerly awaited sequel Austin Powers in Goldmember, which stars Mike Myers, Michael Caine and Beyonce Knowles.